SDCC 2016: Tomasi and Gleason Talk Superman, Rebirth...And The Sandman Saga?!

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Superman-Rebirth

While Superman is taking a physical beating from Doomsday over in Action Comics this week, it's the emotional attack from The Eradicator, who targeted Superman's son Jon and even Krypto the Super-Dog in Superman last week, where the Man of Steel is really being run ragged.

At a time where there are a lot of callbacks to the great Superman comics of the '90s, Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason are using some of the concepts of that era, blended with some pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths and post-Flashpoint ideas, to come up with one of the most acclaimed runs on Superman since that time.

During Comic Con International: San Diego last week, ComicBook.com spoke with Tomasi and Gleason about their mission statement for the book, what's coming up, and of course that one, crazy theory I came up with...!

I've heard a lot of readers and critics saying that the Superman titles are as good as they've been in about 15 years. Is it a real sigh of relief to get past the Rebirth #1's and get to say, "Oh, yeah, that worked?"

Peter J Tomasi: Yeah, without a doubt. I can't even put into words how incredibly happy we are that people are digging our stuff. We are over the moon as they say. We're just really happy that Superman is connecting with people. That's really what it's about. Connecting. 

Patrick Gleason: We really felt that going in, that we wanted to do this Superman this way and I think there was a little hesitation. Are people going to be up for this? It's been phenomenal, the feedback I've gotten from people. Just the emotional stories, they're reading the comics with their kids again.

They're saying "This is my Superman." There's an instant recognition that we are really happy that people are connecting with. It's resonating on different levels. We couldn't be happier. We are really glad people are reading it. 

Visually, Superman got a new costume but even beyond that, you're doing a lot of things that are your version of, or a twist on, classic elements. If you look at your new Eradicator or even just Jon, how much of that is a continuing process? Are you still evolving as you go?

Gleason: Yeah, just for me artistically, I always change stuff. When I have a reference for a character I usually put my own spin on it. It's just because I have an idea. I like to play loose with it and I like to have fun with it. It was kind of interesting doing the Superman design. 

When DC came to me and said "We need a new design for Superman," I just went "Wow, a new design? All right, I liked the old one a lot but, let's do something new."

I gave them my ideas and they got in on the mix. Jim Lee was able to have some ideas and things like that, which was really cool for me. For me, at least the suit, I wanted it to be instantly recognizable, trustworthy, get back that classic feel but still have enough wiggle room where it feels new, where this new chapter of Superman can move forward in.

That character can embody that suit rather than the suit defining that character. 

For Eradicator, I read all of that stuff when it was coming out so I remember. Pete and I would talk -- we talked design, too. Pete's very integral in the design stuff too. He has great ideas. We went back and forth on the glasses and stuff. He came up with the cool bit.

Tomasi: To make it feel organic that there's a pair of Clark's glasses at the Fortress, which could happen easily. That ended up becoming [The Eradicator's] visor instead of just sort of having a visor. 

Gleason: For the design stuff, it's a challenge always. You never know how far you want to take it. Sometimes you want to go really far. For Eradicator, because of the way the story is unfolding, we wanted him to seem familiar but, at the same time, there's something off about him. Keep reading. There's even more you'll see as the issues progress.

I actually did a video on this for our Facebook page, so I've got to ask you: Was it intentional evoking The Sandman Saga and Kryptonite Nevermore with the way that you did the Final Days death? 

Tomasi: I loved that story. The art on that was great. It was [written by] Denny O'Neil. It was great stuff. Yes, it was definitely a nod to that story, having the sand and everything. 

That's one of the things that I've been really digging about what you guys are doing and what Dan's doing. There's a lot of winks and nods to stuff that happened before ... To the movie. We talked about that a little before, to the doomsday fight from the old days. It's not overwhelming. It doesn't feel like you guys are being "Reset". Is that a balancing act? 

Tomasi: We don't want to take a bath in the past. If you do that you're not moving forward. The best thing about comics, if it's done right, is you just take current notes of the past and pepper them through it and sometimes use them as little seeds to do other things.

Even in Rebirth where we had the Doomsday fight, we could have easily made that a whole issue of just fighting. We just picked a cool scene and Doug Mahnke was able to add his complete stamp on that. It's important to not drown in the past a lot. You have to keep looking forward.

You guys have worked together on Batman and Robin. Is there common ground between the father/son relationships that you're having fun lining or is there a difference that you're able to play with?

Tomasi: The common ground, I think it's just fathers and sons. It's really hard to answer. I think the basic core of each of their characters immediately makes a distinct relationship. Bruce and Damian are completely different to Clark and Jonathan. Right there, that difference adds so much drama in so many different ways that we can explore and we can go down so many different avenues. 

We're doing it now, Clark is holding back a little bit. He doesn't want Jonathan out and about. He's feeling like he needs to keep him under sort of a shadow a little bit more. Meanwhile, Lois with the respect of being the exact opposite. She's sort of saying "Our son needs to be exposed to more stuff because he's going to need to protect himself."

There's a lot of different ways to play with it when you've got great characters like Bruce and Clark and their respective sons. There's so much combined dramatically. 

I asked Dan about this earlier this morning. I've been curious to get your take on it. Do you think that there's an inherent conflict at times between Clark's responsibilities as a parent and his responsibilities as Superman? Obviously you're going to be in situations where Jon is watching him get the ever loving crap get kicked out of him. 

Tomasi: Which is definitely coming up. It's kind of weird but you also learn sometimes by watching and seeing your father deal with stuff. He's going to be learning how to deal with stuff by watching his father.

This isn't just a...it's a regular human relationship of course but, you just can't take out the fact that this is a superhero story. You're going to be learning as a child by watching your father, who is Superman, deal with obstacles and things. By osmosis you'll hopefully be picking that up and learning as you go.